Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration©
Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration

Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration in New Zealand

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Article Single Pages©
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Passport Control, eGate, Visa and Immigration Advice for New Zealand Arrivals

After a lengthy flight to get to New Zealand, passing through Customs can feel more stressful than it actually is. Let us relieve the stress by taking you through the process of arriving in New Zealand. In this arrival advice for New Zealand guide, we’ll go through what to expect.

On arrival, you will have to go through Passport Control, Baggage Claim and then Biosecurity and Customs. This article will guide you through the first part of the arrival: Passport Control and Immigration.

For a guide on the latter steps, see here: Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs. Otherwise, we have a complete overview in our guide, Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process.

What Happens When You Go Through Passport Control and Immigration?

As long as you bring the correct visa and supporting evidence, passport and passenger card, passing through Passport Control and Immigration will be a breeze.

This guide will tell you what to expect…

  • On the plane
  • At the Passport Control desk
  • Whether or not you need a visa
  • What the Immigration Officer might ask you
  • At the eGate.

Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration©

What to Expect on the Plane to New Zealand

The first part of passing through Immigration and Passport Control is filling out the New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD). This narrow card should be handed to you on your flight to New Zealand. Alternatively, you can start filling out the card via the NZTD App; remember to submit the form within 24 hours of your arrival in New Zealand.

Complete the declaration – you can check out A Guide to the NZ Traveller Declaration for tips. If you completed a physical card, keep the form to hand in at the Passport Control desk when you land. If you complete the declaration online (or via the app), this will automatically be sent to New Zealand Passport Control and Customs, available for them to view on file once your passport is scanned on arrival.

Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration©

What to Expect at the Passport Control Desk

The setup of Passport Control in New Zealand is very similar to many other countries. You will either queue for Immigration Officers to manually check your passport, visa/NZeTA and New Zealand Traveller Declaration, or pass through the eGate, which is an automatic system that scans your passport.

Your passport must be valid for at least three months after your intended departure date. You will also need a valid visa or NZeTA depending on which country you come from. (More information below).

Make sure you have the evidence/paperwork to support the requirements of your visa. For example, the Working Holiday Visa requires you to have sufficient funds for your stay in New Zealand, a return travel ticket/or sufficient funds to buy one, and a certificate of your travel insurance. We recommend snapping up the cheap and comprehensive Working Holiday Plan insurance from OrbitProtect.

All the evidence might not be asked of you, but it’s always best to be prepared!

What is the eGate?

Within the New Zealand international airports of Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington you can use the eGate if you hold an e-passport from New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Canada, China (excluding Hong Kong), France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, the US and the UK. This is instead of going to the Passport Control desk and speaking to a real human being.

Open your passport to the page with your photograph and insert it into the scanner at the gate. Step through the automatic gate when it opens, stand where the “footprints” are on the floor, and a camera will scan your face to see if it matches your passport. If there are any issues, you may have to remove anything that obstructs your face, like glasses. If you are successful, the gate will open! If not, usually due to a technical difficulty, see the Immigration Officer at the desk.


Do You Need a Visa?

You do not need a physical visa if:

  • You are a New Zealand or Australian resident
  • You are a Resident Permit holder
  • You have an Australian passport
  • A British passport holder who can provide evidence that they permanently reside in the UK. British citizens can stay in New Zealand for up to six months
  • You are from a visa-waiver country (check the Immigration NZ website to see if your country is listed). In this case, you need to complete, pay and submit an NZeTA (see below).

You do need a visa if you do not meet any of the criteria above or you are arriving in New Zealand to work, study, reside, etc.

Note that visitors to New Zealand need either travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements, and evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself. For example, a bank statement. Although you might not be asked for this evidence, you may want to have these papers handy to ensure a smoother arrival process.


Remember, if you’re travelling to New Zealand as a visitor but do not require a visa, you still need to apply for the NZeTA – find out more in the What You Need to Know About the New Zealand ETA & Visitor Levy.

Not on the Waiver List?

If your country is not on the waiver list or you want to stay longer than three months (six months if British), then you will need to apply for a Visitor Visa. You can download the application form from Immigration NZ.

In New Zealand to Work or Study?

There are other visa options for working and studying in New Zealand, which often allow you to stay for at least a year. The most common visa for 18-35-year-olds is the Working Holiday Visa. Make sure you have a hard copy of your visa in case the Immigration officer asks for it.

Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration in New Zealand©

What the Immigration Officer Might Ask You

After handing over your passport and passenger arrival card, the Immigration Officer might ask you a few questions. Likely, the officer won’t but it’s always best to be prepared, right? The questions you could be asked are:

Do you have anything to declare?

You will have to declare what you have stated on your NZ Traveller Declaration. For example, if you have brought sports equipment, state that to the Immigration Officer.

What is the purpose of your trip?

Basically, say what your visa is: Working Holiday, Visitor, etc.

Do you have a return ticket or sufficient funds for a return ticket?

Show the appropriate evidence, such as a copy of a recent bank statement or your outward travel ticket.

Do you have sufficient funds required for your visa?

Show the appropriate evidence, such as a copy of a recent bank statement.

Do you have any contacts in the country?

Give contact details if you know anyone in the country. If you don’t have a contact, no worries.

Where are you going to be staying for the first few days?

Have the address of your hotel or relevant accommodation on hand.

Where was your last destination?

State your home country or the last country you visited, if you are not coming straight from home.

Have you visited New Zealand before?

Answer truthfully.

Do you have any food with you?

Answer truthfully and state what type of food it is, whether it is packaged, etc. By this point, you shouldn’t have any fresh food with you. There will be bins to dispose of prohibited foods like fresh fruit and vegetables.

How much cash do you have on you today?

If you have NZ$10,000+ or the foreign equivalent, then you’ll have to go through a Border Cash Report.

If all goes well, which we’re sure it will, you will get an Immigration NZ stamp in your passport. The passport and the NZ Traveller Declaration will be returned to you, and you’ll be on your way!

Arrival Advice: Passport Control & Immigration in New Zealand©

What’s Next?

Baggage Claim and Biosecurity!

All the declarations you made on your New Zealand Traveller Declaration will come into play in this next section of arriving in New Zealand. Find out more about biosecurity in the next steps: Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs.

If you’re arriving at Auckland Airport, check out Arriving at Auckland Airport: A Step-by-Step Guide. Otherwise, find all the arrival tips you need in our guide, Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process.

More About Passport Control and Immigration in New Zealand

Just to cover all your bases, make sure to read our other guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in our complete guide to the subject; Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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